Sunday, December 18, 2011

J Mueller's BBQ

Pepper. Lots of pepper.

That's certainly how I would sum up the new J Mueller BBQ trailer on South First. As expected, the meats were delicious, and for a BBQ joint, the sides were okay. Fortunately, on a wettish Tuesday, we didn't have to wait in line, as we were the only ones there! At times though, they see big lines, and when they're out of food for the day, they're out! 

They gave us a big bite of nice charred brisket as they were putting our order together. Tender, smoky, with a big black pepper bite to it.
Two of us split what you see below, which we brought home to eat: from the left, potato salad, sausage, pork ribs, brisket, squash casserole, and chipotle cole slaw. 
The pork sausage has a nice coarse grind, also pretty peppery. The pork ribs were probably my favorite of the meats; great pink smoke ring, and not as much pepper (though you could see it in the rub on the exterior) as the brisket. Potato salad was my favorite of the three sides, creamy, with a few little chunks in it. The squash really didn't do anything for me (but I am generally not a huge fan of yellow squash), though my friend, who ate it all the time at the previous Mueller locations, was quite pleased with it. And the cole slaw had more of a black pepper taste than a chipotle taste to it... not as advertised.

Mueller's is directly across the street from what will be the new Elizabeth Street Cafe (and just to the south of this building is the lot for Izzoz Tacos), which will serve upscale Vietnamese. Too hard to get a decent photo, with S. 1st Street traffic, and the orange construction markers. When I drove past there last night, they had some Christmas lights up on the awnings. Getting close to opening, I hope!
And this building on the north side of Elizabeth is rumored to be a Thai spot.....
The meats of J Mueller's are a great addition to the trailers along S. 1st, and good BBQ is always a good thing. No offense to the Mexican Mile, but South First is finally turning into a REAL food destination!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bits and Bites

Now open:
-- Lucy's Fried Chicken, from the folks at Olivia. Mmmmm! Can't wait to try this one!

Make reservations for:
-- Paggi House is having both New Year's Eve dinners ($95 + up) and brunch on New Year's Day.
-- Parkside is having a New Year's Eve dinner ($60 + up) as well as a party upstairs ($100).
-- Contigo is having New Year's Eve cocktail pairing dinner ($115).
-- Sagra having a New Year's Day brunch buffet, $24 per person ($30 with mimosas).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


It's pretty hard to go wrong with a place named Bacon.

From the door handle.... the merchandise available for purchase.... the helpful eye chart on the back of the menu (you must be in good health to eat here!).....
 ... to the food (more on that in a sec), Bacon is a happenin' place.

I pick Sunday morning brunch as my first time to go visit Bacon. Fortunately, we were only a party of two, so it wasn't difficult to sit, because the place was certainly hopping. (Hard to believe this was the old Basil's restaurant, and more recently, the Screaming Goat.) You order at the bar/counter, you get your number so the food runners can find you, and find a seat. Both the gal taking our order and the guys running the food were super-friendly, and they all seemed genuinely nice, not just people working another service job.

I had the biscuits and gravy, which were really outstanding (yes, almost as good as my own!). The biscuits are large, and nice and fluffy, meaning the dough wasn't overworked. Good pieces of bacon in the gravy, and no wimpy chive garnish here!
And the corn fritters with bacon aioli. The fritters were ok. I think it's canned corn, and while they were nice and golden, there wasn't a ton of taste to them by themselves. The aioli was the one real disappointment of the meal. It tastes artificial, and I would almost bet they're using the Bacon Mayo, which I've had before, and hated it because it was entirely artificial. Fritters were better when dipped in gravy!
My friend had the butter lettuce salad with bacon and bleu cheese. (REALLY? I am getting b & g, and she's eating a salad?? Whatever.) Have to say, it was one of the prettiest salads, with what looked like a whole head of butter lettuce. Kind of your basic bleu cheese, but nice big pieces of bacon.
I've been the proud owner of a bacon wallet for about 4 years now; hard to tell in the picture, but it's one of the bacon memorabilia items available for sale. When I was paying for my food, the gal at the register commented "That's what inspired this whole restaurant idea!" A pretty good idea indeed! Now, if only someone can figure out how to make the wallet SMELL like bacon........

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bits and Bites

-- I've been trying to figure out what the old Furr's Cafeteria on South Lamar is going to turn into. On my way to Target in the beginning of November (I think that's when it was), I saw two of the Stubb's BBQ trailers parked on the backside, by the old Lacks, and an inquiry on Twitter came back with one reply of a Stubb's anyone want to confirm this?

-- Contigo, in east Austin, has winterized both their outdoor seating and their seasonal menu.

-- And speaking of BBQ, the County Line franchise will happily ship you some ribs (or other tasty items) wherever you'd like to send them! They also do gift cards, and even vegetarian options (!). See their website for info.

-- And then speaking of vegetarians, there's a new vegan queso on the market made by Food for Lovers and it's available for shipping! I've heard it's really good, but have not tried it.... I am curious, but I am a non-vegan, die hard Austin Slow Burn Green Chile con Queso kinda gal......

-- The Monument Cafe in Georgetown will be open on Christmas Day from 9 am - 2 pm, serving traditional holiday feasts.

-- Sagra will be holding New Year's Day brunch; reservations recommended.

-- A Torrid Affair is hosting a special holiday six course wild game dinner at Springdale Farm on December 19th. For more info and tickets,  see their website.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Odds and Ends!

Went 2 weeks ago to Luke's Inside Out, the trailer adjacent to the Gibson Bar; my first time at either place, actually! How can you not love a place that calls their sandwiches by what they are: The Pig, The Cow, The Cheese, etc. So of course, I had The Pig (duh!), which was quite a tasty little number. The full description: pulled pork, with bacon, mozzarella, chow chow, bbq sauce, and onion  rings. Messy though! Very nicely done, and a nice contrast of sweetness with the addition of pickled peaches, I believe.

Last week, I got a slight wild hair and drove out to Baguette et Chocolate at 2244 (Bee Caves) and Hwy 71. Located in a non-descript newer retail/office park, they are a sophisticated French bakery that I have heard great things about. Apart from the fact they were out of almond croissants when I arrived for an early lunch, I was not disappointed, and it was delicious. I had a lunch of crepe complete -- a buckwheat crepe (traditional for savory crepes in France) with egg, ham, and Swiss cheese, with a small side of greens. A little to my surprise, it comes folded into a rectangle, but that had no affect on how tasty it was! Very nicely pan seared, not only so the cheese melts, but so the outer edges become crispy. They have a ton of savory and sweet crepe choices, it was hard to narrow it down! Must go back and try other varieties! I had picked out a chocolate croissant for the following day's breakfast (it got slightly burned heating it in my toaster oven, but it seemingly had a thousand little layers to it!), an order of choquettes, little light as air bite-sized cream puffs with coarse sugar on top, and a sourdough baguette to go with some soup already at home. Wished they had demi-baguettes, because that full loaf was addictive.Very cute little place, though too bad it IS such a drive!

This past Friday, I went to Chen's Noodle House, another favorite spot, even though it is WAY the heck up north! (Well, northwest.... 183 and Spicewood Springs). I was a little concerned that they'd be too crowded with no place to sit (it's a tiny spot), or they'd be out of the really good stuff. Fortunately, by the time we got there, close to 8 pm, it was only half full, and they were out of two items I wasn't as interested in. We started with the green onion pancakes, which are as fine as you will find anywhere. Crisp and flaky, slightly soft on the inner concentric circle layers.... Could have eaten a whole lot of those! We had the lamb skewers next; 8 metal skewers with 4 or 5 pieces of tender, succulent lamb on each. These were done with a spicy (and a bit salty) szechuan peppercorn rub, that also had some heat to it. They were grilled perfectly, and just melted in your mouth. In my excitement, I failed to take pics of the pancakes or the lamb, ooops!  I had gotten a tip from a friend to try the noodles with black bean sauce, but to get them with the handcut noodles, which they did without hesitation when we asked. Such great flavor in the sauce, it was really perfect with those wider irregular noodles. We also had the thin noodles with ground lamb, which was quite good, but not quite as good as the first one.
While at Chen's, we heard another customer talking to the man behind the counter (Chen himself?), and got the scoop: they are opening a LARGER location on Anderson Lane! Hopefully within 3 weeks (so right before Christmas?). And hot pots!!! It's in the same shopping center as Korea House and the Alamo, which will definitely make it closer for those of us down south!!!

After dinner, we walked  across the strip center to the site of Sambet's Cajun Deli. Unfortunately, they had a fire at Thanksgiving, while deep frying turkeys. Their damage was heavy, and even spread a bit to neighboring businesses. Dynasty Chinese next door remains closed. Ann's Kitchen, a cake shop, is closed as well, but the note on their door said they are still filling cake orders, which could be picked up a few doors down at the pharmacy. Fortunately, Asia Cafe was spared any damage. And judging from the note on the door, it doesn't look like Sambet's will reopen. 
And tonight, I just got home from a dinner with good friends at Enoteca, always one of my favorite spots, and here in the neighborhood. We shared everything: suppli, pork rillettes, duck confit salad, gnocchi, and carbonara, but with tagliatelle, not spaghetti. And wine. And polenta almond cookies for dessert.  Now it's cold out, my plants are covered, and it's time to make more hot tea!